CEO Friday Message
April 21, 2017
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to be a judge at the Innovation Showcase at the University of Charleston. The University and Highland have been important partners in education and service over many years, and it was my pleasure to get some insight into what students there have been doing this year in the new Innovation Center. As judges we were divided over several categories, including student art, student product innovations, student process innovations and student research. I had the pleasure of judging student research. Over 132 projects were presented over the course of the day.
A few observations. First, this new generation of student researchers is amazing! They are looking at every day issues in new and different ways, and creating evidence that can change the way that we do a lot of things in our daily lives. But more importantly for many of them, their research grew out of their passion. One student, who wishes to attend veterinary school, runs a kitten and cat rescue program. Her observations about the types of intestinal issues seen in rescued kittens and cats led to her research comparing the types of intestinal parasites by age and county. This work can inform how these vulnerable animals are cared for, but also informed the audience of a serious problem in our world, animal overpopulation. Another student who currently works in pediatric dentistry and who is attending dental school in the fall was concerned about the efficiency of toothpaste in killing bacteria and fungus found in the human mouth—which lead to tooth decay. She was able to show through laboratory testing that two toothpastes are equally effective, and another was not effective at all. Practical knowledge, generated through science! Another student presented her research on the overgrowth of certain plants in our WV ecosystem and the potential impact that overuse of vitamins in our population might have on this—as they are excreted from our bodies and into the water system. And finally, another young man was able to document through soil samples in the flood areas in Greenbrier County that the soil has been stripped of important nutrients that will affect farming success for years to come. His research could inform economic recovery and development in the area.
What does any of this have to do with us at Highland? Innovation is one of our core values. We depend upon science to inform our care, but we also depend on our employees to never accept the status quo but rather to always strive to do better, to learn more, and to enhance the quality of care that we provide. Albert Einstein said ”To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science”. We embrace this thought, and it was obvious that the students at the University of Charleston do as well. I believe that the future of innovation is in good hands!